Jorge Padilla, CFP®
Principal, Senior Client Advisor
September 26, 2021

It all started with a few clients wanting to ensure their money was helping to fund more developments that combat fossil fuel consumption. Those few clients grew to many more clients who wanted their money to be invested in a manner that is aligned with their values and beliefs, to fund projects and companies where there is more than just profit to be made and there is a higher level of care to do good for the environment, society, and all stakeholders. Put simply, it is trying to do well for others as well as with oneself with your investment dollars.

I believe sustainable investing provides a renewed, more comprehensive standard for investing that can potentially provide better outcomes than traditional investing over the long term. Originally, this way of investing was referred to as Socially Responsible Investing and Impact Investing. Nowadays, Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) screens are becoming a standard. While other regions of the world had already embraced ESG in investing, the US is now beginning to embrace these principles more and more.

We began incorporating ESG in our investment process in 2016, when we partnered with Calvert to invest in one specific area of the global stock market where we saw compelling evidence that incorporating ESG screens had helped improve investment results. A few years ago, we embarked on a research project to design ESG-focused portfolios where all investments are selected not only for their investment merit but also for their high standards in ESG—that is, to include and emphasize companies which have attractive investment return potential and embrace principles, values, and practices which help improve the environment, society, and all stakeholders the company touches (employees, customers, communities, etc), while, at the same time, excluding or minimizing companies that do not embrace such principles, regardless of profit or investment return potential.

Nowadays, there is a lot more information about ESG, SRI, Values Based and Impact Investing but still a lot of confusion remains. Here is a short description of what these concepts mean and how they are used:

When considering all these principles, it is very important to consider how many investment companies are "greenwashing" their investment products to attract more investors. The concept of greenwashing is similar to "window dressing" in corporate finance and it happens when an organization tries to present itself as more environmentally or ESG friendly than they truly are (based upon the actual data) in an effort to obtain higher investment dollars from ESG investors. As the ESG investment space matures and more higher quality reporting standards become the norm, this issue may be reduced. Still, for committed ESG investors, it is important to look beyond the marketing labels of ESG and truly understand what they own and why. Being victim to greenwashing is one of the primary reasons we have taken a more active approach in researching all the ESG investment strategies within our client portfolios.

If aligning your investments with your values and principles resonates with you, we welcome having a conversation about how we can help you maximize your return as well as your impact.

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